Public Inquiry Outcome

After June’s public inquiry, we were recently contacted by the Planning Inspector regarding the result. North Marsh pavilion and car park have been granted permission whilst East Marsh car park, retained without approval after the Olympics, has been refused permission, see here: COM 603 & COM 604 Hackney Marshes

We are happy that the correct decision has been reached regarding the unlawfully retained car park at East Marsh and therefore expect Hackney Council to remove it immediately. Although we are disappointed that the pavilion will now be built on what is presently green space, we understand that the inspector did take our views into account, acknowledging that the development would have a negative impact on informal users of the marshes. She was no doubt prompted in her decision by the urgency to provide suitable facilities for the sports clubs which had been left lacking by Hackney Council. This decision will result in another large car park on the marshes so we sincerely hope that this will be the last car park constructed on our common land.

Any future Council plans should involve everyone in a proper consultation to avoid unnecessary expense and community division between marsh users.a

Personal responses to decision

It’s been a few weeks since we received the Planning Inspector’s Decision about the North Marsh Pavilion and the East Marsh car park, and I am still thinking about it.
Like all of us who worked so hard to put together the case against the applications, I am very sad that one tree will definitely be felled on North Marsh, that other trees may die and that where now there is grass there may soon be an ugly building, and I’m pleased that the car park will be removed from East Marsh. Yet I don’t seem to be as disheartened by the decision as others, and I have been considering why. Perhaps it is because I am, mostly, a glass-half empty person and if you expect the worst then you are pleasantly surprised when things turn out better than you hoped for. Yet that isn’t the whole story.
As the inquiry due to a close my hunch was that we would win on East Marsh and lose on North Marsh, so the decision was pretty much what I was expecting. And we did win. Let’s not forget that. We didn’t win on all counts, but we did win. Hackney Council do need to remove the car park from East Marsh. Our hard work will help turn a little bit of concrete back into green space and, in my book, that’s worth celebrating. It isn’t a rip roaring 24-hour party kind of a celebration, but it’s a raised glass in acknowledgement of a hard-won achievement kind of a celebration. I was so proud to stand alongside everyone else who made the case against the application at the inquiry. We are all very different kinds of people, with different skills and different ways of going about things and – against all the odds – we managed to get organised, stay focused and work together to present a case that was complimented by the opposition and by the inspector herself contrary – I suspect – to expectations. That’s another reason I feel some kind of hope. We’ve done this once and we did ok. Next time we’ll be able to put our new-found expertise to work and our case will be even stronger. And if Hackney Council, Waltham Forest Council or the Lea Valley Regional Park want to see that as some kind of threat, then perhaps it may well be just that!
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Hackney Council Approve Their Own Plans

As expected, Hackney Council voted to approve their own application for two car parks and a pavilion building on Hackney Marshes at tonight’s planning committee meeting. Cllr McShane’s view that the ‘primary purpose’ of the marshes is for it to be utilised as a sporting ‘facility’ unfairly disadvantages local people enjoying the marshes freely for a range of pass times and its value for nature. No-one could reasonably dispute the need for improved sporting facilities, however with these plans the Council will unnecessarily destroy open green space. The Council’s agenda seems to be to commercialise our green spaces with large private facilities, including sprawling car parks (which will remain mostly unused), in the name of health and sport.

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Walthamstow Historical Society

Waltham Forest Cycling Campaign

Beating and Bicycling the Bounds
around the former Borough of Walthamstow

2.30pm on Saturday 6th June 2015

(approx distance:  Northern Route: 15.5km, 9½ miles;  Southern Route 9km, 5½ miles)

Gather from 2.00-2.15pm

by the Borough of Waltham Forest boundary sign
at Eagle Pond, Snaresbrook Road, E.11.

to Start the Beating the Bounds Community Procession

There will be a short ceremony at The Old Birch Well on Leyton Flats before walking or cycling
part or all of either the Northern or Southern Boundary of the former Borough of Walthamstow.

This is an event marking
100 years of the
Walthamstow Historical Society and
Half-Centenary of the Borough of Waltham Forest !
1. Cycle Ride around Northern Boundary via Gilbert’s Slade – led by Nic Fripp of WFCC

2.Walk along Northern Boundary to Woodford Green – led by John Churchill of CLOG

3. Cycle Ride around Southern Boundary – led by Katy Andrews of W’stow Hist. Society

4. Walk along Southern Boundary to the “Hare & Hounds” PH, Lea Bridge Road, E10
led by David Boote of the Leyton & Leytonstone Historical Society

Both halves of this ‘perambulation’ will conclude by meeting up at
the traditional end point of the ‘Ferry Boat Inn‘, Forest Road N17
(on the Walthamstow/Tottenham border), arriving late afternoon.

Walkers will be advised about public transport to reach the Inn (bus 230).

NOTE for the Northern route you will need to be fit and healthy (no heart/lung problems), and if cycling your bike must be suitable for difficult off-road terrainover-12s only, please!

Further Information:  email:;  tel/txt: 0790 415 9398

Waltham Forest Cycling Campaign:

Walthamstow Historical Society:

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Our Response to Mayor Jules Pipe re Petition

The footprint of the proposed pavilion measured out by SLM members

The footprint of the proposed pavilion measured out by SLM members

We are disappointed with Mayor Jules Pipe’s response to our petition. The reply does not address the key demand of the petition, that Hackney Council withdraw their own application for two car parks and a pavilion on presently green space.

We have made it clear that we are not disputing the benefit of suitably designed 21st century facilities for local sports groups. The petition in fact requested that the new pavilion be located on the footprint of the current facilities, rather than on presently green open space on the common land of Hackney Marshes.

The Council’s proposal involves inflicting unnecessary damage on the open landscape and needless loss of green space. There are no valid reasons that the pavilion cannot be located on the present site.

It is clear that no efforts were ever made to design a new facility that could fit within the current footprint. The starting point was an excessive amount of space dedicated to vehicles and a building designed such that it could not fit on the brownfield site on North Marsh.

Certain design features of the building that do not serve community sport, such as a large bar area, do not provide adequate justification for loss of common land.

The petition response refers to improving general public health. Encouraging people to drive to the marshes is incompatible with good public health. Hackney suffers from poor air quality and for this reason has been declared an ‘Air Quality Zone’, requiring Council action. Air pollution seriously affects people’s health and 9% of deaths in the capital are related to air pollution. 65% of the emissions that are responsible for poor air quality are due to transport.

As part of its own transport policy, the Council is meant to be discouraging car use; increasing walking and cycling; and supporting reduction of personal exposure to pollution from roads and cars. Hackney Council should therefore reduce its own impact on air quality, initiating car free developments, rather than employing public funds on vastly increasing car parking with this project.

As a borough with the highest level of bus usage in London, renowned for having the most cyclist-friendly routes and public realms, the Council is ideally placed to observe it own objectives rather than contravene its own transport policy with this proposal.

The issues are not complex. They are in fact very simple. The Council should reconsider its priorities and design the proposal to be compliant with its own policies and observant of the rights and protections afforded to Common Land. A redesign could easily include far less car parking; creating a better building that would meet the requirements of all users – accessible and safe for all the community and not located on green Metropolitan Open Land. This could have been done in the first place.

Such a proposal would be more likely to be passed by the Planning Inspectorate, could enjoy the support of all users of Hackney Marshes and lead to much needed facilities for the sports teams being provided without unnecessary delay.

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Public Inquiry: Applying to speak/ submit your views

If you objected to common land consent being given for ‘Works on Hackney Marshes’ (two car parks, one on North and one on East Marsh, and pavilion on presently green space) you will have received an email inviting you to speak at a Planning Inspectorate public inquiry into the plans.

This inquiry is intended to investigate whether the proposed loss of common land is justified. Unless consent is given, works would be illegal.

You can still apply to speak, attend or submit evidence to the inquiry even if you did not object.

This inquiry is likely to take place next year. We do not yet know the date. The venue will be somewhere in Hackney.

We strongly encourage you to take the opportunity to attend the inquiry. You will be asked for how long you would like to speak. You can speak for as long as you wish to. You can also attend the inquiry without speaking or submit a written statement if you are not able to attend and wish your views to be considered.

To do so, please write before 15th October:





[Please state whether you wish to attend, submit written evidence and if you wish to speak how long you would like to speak for].

We are asking people to copy us in so we have a rough idea of how many people will be taking part in the inquiry.


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Commercial Predation of Hackney Marshes spelled out 15m high

adidas 4
As Hackney Council goes through the bureaucratic charade of giving itself planning permission for another extravagant building to spoil the Hackney Marsh landscape, it has spelled out loud and clear its commercial agenda and disregard for Metropolitan Open Land at the other end of the Marsh.

A 46m by 15m ad promoting Adidas, the rapacious billion euros a year profit sportswear brand, is covering the side of the Hackney Marshes Centre and shouting its message of “predator instinct” across the landscape with arrogant disregard for the setting of spaciousness and greenery that makes the Marsh such a special place.

It appears to have been put up without the required planning consent and we are currently investigating how much Adidas paid for the privilege.

The Council’s planning agents Firstplan, experts in misrepresenting the grim reality of plans in order to win consent, claimed in the Hackney Marshes Centre planning application in 2009:
Great attention has been paid to the setting of the proposal, including landscaping and car parking arrangements. As such, the scheme has been designed to cater for community needs whilst respecting the Metropolitan Open Land designation.”

Firstplan subsequently claimed on their website that one of the ‘key challenges’ for the HMC application were ‘restrictive’ policy designations – ie. Metropolitan Open Land protection, intended to keep open spaces free from intrusive developments.

adidas 2

Besides now doubling as a  giant advertising hoarding the so-called ‘changing rooms’ are also hired out for wedding receptions and corporate events.

Confronted with this vast wall of vinyl now dominating the landscape, one can almost admire the audacity of the Council in pontificating in their North Marsh Pavilion application:
“development on MOL can only be considered if the development is ancillary to the use to which the open land is put and if it does not have an adverse effect on the visual quality of landscape. These were material considerations when a planning application was sought for the development of the Hackney Marsh Centre” .

adidas 1At least we know what to expect if they succeed in constructing the North Marsh Pavilion.


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Building on Hackney Marshes: How To Object To Hackney Planning Committee

Please write an email to:

Subject: Hackney Marshes (REF 2014/2582)

Dear Sir/Madam,

[Declare that you wish to object to the plans and introduce how you use the marshes/ will be affected by these proposals]

Please cut & paste  the following points (if you have time, please put in your own words):

East Marsh car park.

This represents an unacceptable and unjustified loss of green space.

Other public parking facilities exist in the immediate area recently built on former green space and use of these should be explored before losing more. A 1300 space multi-storey car park is 5 mins walk away, also situated on Hackney Marshes. 100m to the south surplus parking exists at the Eton Manor Hackney and Tennis Centre and also at the Velodrome.

The concrete block paved surface is visually obtrusive and unsympathetic to the landscape. No lower-impact alternatives have been considered. The proposed North Marsh car park uses cellular reinforced grass and gravel.

There are good transport connections locally and no justification for encouraging additional unnecessary car use.

Environmental impacts from encouragement of car access onto the common include air pollution, risk of illegal vehicle access and fly tipping.

A car park in this location cannot be said to be essential for recreational use of the land and so does not conform to Metropolitan Open Land policy.

North Marsh pavilion

Its size and prominent location will obstruct the openness of the distant views across Hackney Marsh, one of its unique features, particularly from the heavily used access points at the north east corner and Cow Bridge.

The elongated design and pale colour will make it highly visible from most points on the marsh and attempts to disguise it with vegetation will not mitigate its impact on the sense of openness.

The reasons given for choosing to place it out on open green space rather than on or near the current building footprint are not credible, since permission was granted in 2008 for a building larger than the current proposal yet located on the existing changing rooms footprint.

Its provision of the essential core facilities, ie. team changing rooms  at 270 m2, is inferior to both the consented 2008 plan (331 m2)  and the existing building ( 413 m2) while being larger and more obtrusive (87m long vs 49m). This suggests a very inefficient design with large areas given to non-essential uses and cannot justify its impact on MOL.

The unacceptable impact on MOL appears to be driven largely by its claimed function as a cricket pavilion yet it does not confirm to ECB guidelines which require a clear view of the pitch from the changing rooms.

The large social space and bar is not an essential facility supporting recreational use of the land yet appears to be a significant factor in the placement of the building.

It is undesirable and unnecessary to have a general drop off area adjacent to the building – visitors without mobility problems can be dropped off in Millfields Road and have a short walk over the bridge to the changing rooms.

Vehicle access will be over a steeply humped bridge with poor visibility and across a footpath where vehicles come into conflict with pedestrians, dogs, runners and cyclists who should be able to use the Common without risk from traffic.

Managing the car park to control usage and limit the number of vehicles to 68 will not be possible, and all accessible areas will be used as happens at the South car park, with associated danger and congestion.

While an area used for parking once existed on what is now the cricket show pitch, this became inaccessible over 10 years ago, and prior to that was largely unused. It is misleading for the applicants to claim that there will be a net reduction in parking provision by reference to this ‘former’ parking.

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